A Travellerspoint blog

Humanity in Morelia and Getting Lost in Toluca

sunny 25 °C

After we had driven 4100 kilometres from Gabriola to Sayulita, and then parked on a dusty street for two weeks, our car was indescribably filthy. It looked like this:


Mexicans like a clean car and a well-polished shoe. A Sayulita local thoughtfully pointed out to us that our car "needed a shower", and as we drove to Morelia, we kept our eyes peeled for a car wash, to no avail. We pulled in front of our hotel in Morelia and as the very kind man at the front desk was helping us in with our luggage, I also pointed out, needlessly, that our car was dirty. The next morning we got up to discover this:


The man at the front desk had grabbed one of the car washers from the street ( boys with buckets of water, soap and rags), and transformed our car before we got up for breakfast. Gleaming, shining, even the wheels were polished! We were quite overwhelmed at this level of thoughtfulness, and while our new friend accepted payment for the job, he seemed embarrassed by our gratitude.

We visited Morelia last year - this time it was a convenient and welcome stop on our way to Taxco. Both cities are situated in extremely challenging states for drug violence and corruption, and yet, the locals are some of the warmest, dearest and most welcoming people we've met. We were struck by this sign - what a simple and effective solution to helping one another.

Are you cold? Take one.
Do you want to help? Leave one.


We wandered the city, enjoying the beautiful architecture, many parks and fountains and the art that pops up everywhere. This striking painting was tucked in an alcove in a small gallery.


Walking in Morelia is one giant photo op - dramas, small and large, unfolding on every park and public square. Within 10 minutes of arriving at a popular park, we witnessed a marriage proposal (man down on bended knee, girlfriend with hands clasped to mouth, crying), and a quinceanera (a very important celebration in Mexico to mark a young girl's transition into adulthood at fifteen). In the former, we felt it was inappropriate to take photos, and in the latter, my photo of the young girl (in pink frothy dress) was out-of-focus, but Stephen managed to get her handsome young escorts to pose. Hard to believe these little devils are teenagers - they look like '50s crooners.


Nighttime in Morelia - everyone of all ages is out - for dinner, for an ice cream, for a walk. The city is still trimmed for the holidays and buzzing with excitement. Here are a few of the bright lights:




As we left Morelia enroute to Taxco, we were excited to be on the road again, and experience a change of scenery.


Our only apprehension was having to drive through Toluca, a sprawling, hilly industrial city of just over 800,000, with chaotic traffic and stunningly poor road signage. We got hopelessly lost last year in Toluca - a misadventure that took us all over the city and up into a rather sketchy hilltop barrio, where we were finally rescued by two young men who hopped in their truck and led the way out of the city.

So, this year, darned if we didn't get lost again. We followed our road signs very carefully, right through town, everything going well and suddenly - poof! Road signs were gone. No more mentions of the town we were looking for. We kept driving, feeling increasingly uneasy, until, finally, we stopped for directions at a local gas station. In spite of the puzzled looks and the shrugs, we had little choice but to follow the advice of one of the attendants, and turn around to go back from whence we came - locked into bottleneck traffic, and still unsure of where we were and where we were going.

Finally, we pulled over and approached a traffic police officer, who gave us yet another set of instructions in rapid-fire Spanish, which we thought meant - "one set of lights, turn right, keep going for half an hour." Either it was a lucky guess on his part, or we had simply exhausted all other possibilities, but eventually we drove out of Toluca and headed toward the light - in our case, the toll road to Taxco. Hallelujah!

This is Part 1 of a 2-part blog posting - I will post our Taxco experiences tomorrow - way too many photos and stories to fit in here.

Posted by millerburr 19:22 Archived in Mexico

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Wonderful to read your blog, Ginny. And what great stories. People are so kind. Love the idea of "Are you cold? Take One. Do you want to help? Leave one." Could work anywhere.
The sun is trying to poke out after our day of snow yesterday. Enjoy your sun. xoxo

by Shelagh

Felice Anno Nuovo Ginny and Stephen! Awesome travel writing - the expressions of the sights and experiences on your journey are very interesting and colourful! and the photos are delightful and entertaining, as well! and like so many others, I wish I was there! be safe and once again, thank you for allowing me in on your escapades! Libby

by Libby

So happy you made us a part of your experiences Ginny and Stephen. Great blog and wonderful pictures. We went near Morelia several years ago on our way to see the monarch butterflies. Looking forward to the next one from Taxco.

by Mary Ann and Richard

Great pics. The car looks great, but the geezer in the picture looks like he may need a 'bucket of water, soap and rags' himself. Not. Both of you look great and adventurous!


Thanks for the wonderful updates, Ginny and Steve. As I did last year, I'm loving following your journey and look forward to Part 2.

Please send heat...

xo margy

by Margy

It's great following you two along on your continuing adventure

by LeeAnn

I thought I might see Steven in one of those crooner suits? Pictures are fantastic

by Lorne Katz

Receiving your posts give me the feeling of being there with you, seeing all the sights and places I will likely not visit. o lovely to hear about the warmth and wonder of the people you meet Gin. Thank you for all this.


by Gin

Happy New Year you two! Really enjoying the photos, locals and your awesome updates!

by Belinda

Love that shot of the painting in the alcove, as well as your description of all of life's wonderful drama in the public square.

It's going to -1 here tonight.. please think of us. xo

by Alexandra

Stephen and Ginny, first off, happy new year. We're enjoying your adventures and appreciate the very well done updates. Take care in your journey.

by Ron Davis

Reading about the two of you waking up to a clean car touched my heart. How many of us would do the same? (I'm not proud of my answer to that question.)

by Heather

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